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Danger withdrawing cash

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On Aug. 23, Atlanta Police Department Major Fraud Unit Commander Sgt. Terry Joyner stopped at a Wachovia Bank automated teller machine on Monroe Drive to withdraw some cash. As he pulled out his ATM card, he noticed the card slot seemed to protrude. Joyner pulled on the card slot and found glue sticking to it. He then noticed that, unlike with most ATMS, this one's keypad didn't have Braille. He jimmied the pad with his knife and it popped it off, revealing the real keypad.

"This device is one of the most sophisticated devices we've seen," Joyner says.

Behind the contraption is a scam that's hit ATMS throughout the state. It works like this: The fake card slot, which is installed atop the regular slot, obtains a person's card information. Then, a bogus keypad taped or glued on top of the real one records the PIN number. The device saves the card info and PINs sequentially, says Jim Ruf, deputy chief of Florida's Casselberry Police Department, where the scam has also been discovered.

While fake card slots are common, Joyner says, the bogus keypad is an unusual twist. In the past, scammers only have been able to obtain card info, meaning they could only purchase items online. But by obtaining a person's PIN number, culprits can get cash. Joyner says scammers bilked approximately $800,000 from such a device in Valdosta.

ATM users usually can detect the scam by examining the keypad, Joyner notes. The bogus keypads detected so far don't have Braille on them. Ruf adds that ATM users also should look for raised portions of the machine. Most legit keypads and card slots are flush with the ATM.

"You can avoid this scam by going to the same ATM all the time," Ruf says. "That way you'll know if something doesn't look normal."

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